Employers across Wales who want to grow their businesses are being urged to tap into a rich talent pool by offering apprenticeships to thousands of school leavers this summer.
Having finished their GCSEs and ‘A’ level examinations, young people in all corners of Wales are faced with important decisions about their future career paths and one of the main options is an apprenticeship
Many young people aged between 16 and 19 years will not be staying in full-time education and will be heading out into the world of work, providing opportunities for businesses to get fresh new talent onboard.
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A statistic that the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), which represents work-based training providers across Wales, are keen to change this summer is the number of school leavers becoming apprentices.
Out of the cohort of 31,500 Welsh school leavers aged 16 to 19 last year, only 401 opted to become apprentices. Now the Welsh Government has launched a campaign to sign up 1,000 apprentices this summer as part of its pledge to support a minimum of 100,000 high quality, all age apprenticeships during this administration.
Wales is home to a host of enterprising and innovative businesses which have a range of exciting and challenging apprenticeship opportunities available for young people to enter the world of work. With so many employers looking for bright school leavers, competition for apprentices will be keen, so businesses are advised to waste no time with their recruitment plans.
School leavers accepted onto apprenticeship programmes will be training in the workplace alongside experienced employees to develop the skills required by their employer to make a telling contribution to the success of the business. Employers cover their wages and the Welsh Government offers support with some of the training costs.
Apprenticeships begin at level two – a Foundation Apprenticeship – and progress to level three – an Apprenticeship. Level four and above are Higher Apprenticeships and a further level of degree apprenticeship, working alongside universities, is under development for ICT, advanced manufacturing and engineering.
The type of apprenticeship matches the level of qualifications required to do a job. Training is delivered via a combination of on and off the job activity with an approved training provider linked to the apprentice’s job role and competence, which is assessed over the period of the programme.
From August 1, the Apprenticeship Employer Incentive Programme will provide support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to recruit apprentices aged 16-19, help provide individuals and employers with the skills needed over the long-term and prevent skills shortages.
- The incentive is only available to SMEs that are new to apprenticeships or have not recruited an apprentice in the last 30 months
- Support will be offered to a maximum of three apprentices per employer
- Support will be available irrespective of the level of the apprenticeship
- To offer a payment of £3,500 (per learner) for apprentices recruited during the periods of July-September and a payment of £2,500 (per learner) for apprentices recruited at all other times of the year
- The full payment will be made after the apprentice has been employed for eight months
Employers must take several steps to taking on an apprentice:
- Choose an apprenticeships framework or standard for an apprenticeship in your industry and at a suitable level
- Find an approved training provider for the apprenticeship framework or standard you’ve chosen
- Check what funding is available
- Advertise your apprenticeship – your training organisation can assist with this through the Apprenticeship Matching Service
- Select your apprentice and make an apprenticeship agreement with them
To find out more about employing apprentices and the Apprenticeship Small Business Employer Incentive Programme, complete the ‘Expression of Interest’ form at Business Wales Skills Gateway – which is shared with the NTfW.
To drive the Welsh economy forward and provide the skills demanded by employers, the Welsh Government is prioritising skills of level three and above in sectors that have the greatest potential for growth.
Following the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April, large employers across Wales which have a payroll of more than £3 million, are now paying 0.5% of their wages bill to support apprenticeships. Therefore, more apprenticeship opportunities are being created across the private, public and the third sectors.
School leavers seeking apprenticeship opportunities are advised to check out the Careers Wales Apprenticeship Matching Service online at https://ams.careerswales.com
Sarah John, NTfW chair, urges employers to speak to the NTfW if their business needs are not being met by existing apprenticeship provision.
“We realise that if we are to achieve the Welsh Government’s commitment to engage more young people and deliver higher level skills, it will need a whole government approach,” she said. “We need to get employers to create demand for apprenticeship vacancies that will attract the brightest school leavers.
“Apprenticeship providers in Wales, as part of the NTfW network, are best placed to give employers the advice and guidance needed to gain the most benefit that this flagship programme provides.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.